It was an old school Irish Catholic pol, Joe Biden, who reveled last week that he was “sold” on selecting Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, had he decided to run for president. This has led to heated speculation about who Hillary Clinton will end up selecting for the veep slot.
Warren is “gleefully turning herself into a thorn in Donald Trump’s side,” one Washington Post blog reports, adding that “people within Hillary Clinton’s campaign are pushing her to select Warren as her running mate.”
The same blog goes on to add: “My dear liberal friends, I can feel your excitement already. But … she’s not going to be on the ticket.”
Politically, that may well make sense. But it was certainly an interesting week to ponder an all-female ticket running for the White House.
The same week, at the Vatican, Pope Francis held a meeting with 900 women active in the Church, otherwise known as “women religious.” During a question and answer session, the pope was asked if women could serve as deacons, as they had in the early years of the church.
"Why not construct an official commission that might study the question?” the pope was then asked.
According to The National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis revealed that “he had spoken about the matter once some years ago with a ‘good, wise professor’ who had studied the use of female deacons in the early centuries of the church. Francis said it remained unclear to him what role such deacons had.”
The pontiff then asked, "What were these female deacons? Did they have ordination or no? It was a bit obscure. What was the role of the deaconess in that time?”
Then, as he has many times before, he made a declaration that seemed both ordinary and revolutionary.
"Constituting an official commission that might study the question? I believe yes. It would do good for the Church to clarify this point. I am in agreement.”
And just like that, Pope Francis re-ignited the debate about women serving as priests.
Of course, Pope Francis only brought up the issue of deacons. But deacons serve many of the same functions priests do. In fact, given the shortage of priests in many parishes, deacons (who are allowed to be married) are already serving as de facto priests.
Which begs the question: Why are so many aging males in the church hierarchy clinging to “church doctrine” when they refuse to even consider ordaining women?
When so many in the world have decided women are quite able to run for and hold high office – Clinton, Warren 2016! – why do so many Catholics accept the church’s position on female priests, which seems like something out of the Taliban’s playbook?
And if you think that is a cheap shot, think about it – we’re only talking about a female priest celebrating at the altar here. What word other than “radical” can you call a faith that excludes females not only from parish leadership, but also from more powerful positions in the hierarchy, not to mention the papacy itself?
For some time now, Pope Francis has earned accolades for his willingness to question ancient ways. But it may be time to move beyond merely raising questions.
The Pope said he is willing to form a commission to study the possibility of women serving as deacons. And even that has gotten many traditionalists up in arms!
The all-male priesthood (and hierarchy) has, shall we say, come with its fair share of problems.
As it is, many Catholics like to joke that it is usually the nuns who do the real work in any parish. Why not tap that pool of talent?
Look no further than Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, which ran a touching photo essay on Dominican nuns who “treat the untreatable” suffering from incurable cancer in Westchester County, NY.
Imagine if such dedicated and devoted people could actually obtain some power in the hierarchy?
How could making the world a better place be against “church doctrine”?